Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are locked in a race that’s been going on for some time, but now it is moving into newer waters. The two companies are battling to see which one can more quickly come up with the technology which will enable machines to more thoroughly understand complex human thoughts and phrases.

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Beam me up, Scotty: Siri versus Google Now

One of the first orders of business for both technology giants is making Siri and Google Now be able to answer users’ questions with more natural sentences. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) told The Telegraph that it aims to make Google Now into a service which is similar to the Star Trek series’ Starship Enterprise computer. The company wants to make its service into a new way for users to interact not only with apps, but also with the Internet as a whole.

Both Google and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are also working on trying to guess what users want before they even ask for it. Both companies are reading users’ emails and calendars as well as analyzing their locations. They then use this information to provide relevant info users may not even know they want or need at a moment’s notice.

Google leads the way?

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Engineering Director Scott Huffman believes they are ahead in this race right now because everything they do is built upon search rankings and results. He said their systems have a greater understanding of how human beings use language to communicate and ask questions.

He used the example of telling the difference between a common saying and just a basic question. For example, he said people who say, “Show me the Eiffel Tower” will receive pictures of the tower in their search results. However, he said the question, “Show me the money” pulls up information about Jerry Maguire, the movie from which that phrase comes.

Google wants people to talk to their devices

Google Glass, a pair of glasses with many of the same capabilities as a smartphone, is one of the first generation of wearable computing devices. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) hopes more people will use the device to talk to its services. The glasses will also connect with smart watches, vehicles and even the living room, according to Google.

Apple sees Google in front

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) purchased Topsy for $200 million earlier this month. The now-former startup focuses on analyzing tweets. Apple may be planning to use Topsy’s language analysis technology to improve Siri and its understanding of the questions people ask. Some suggest that this may mean Apple has realized that it is lagging behind Google in this area. Others say the acquisition also gives Apple one area in which it has the edge over Google.

Google isn’t just about algorithms, however. Huffman said they accept that some queries can’t be answered through an algorithm. He said they are working on cataloguing other information and verifying it so that Google Now will be able to answer more questions directly instead of by sending users to a web search.